A devoted England cricket fan who has waited 10 months in Sri Lanka for a postponed tour to restart could miss out again as the series goes ahead behind closed doors.
England will play Sri Lanka in a Test match from Thursday in an empty stadium in Galle, 72 miles (112 kilometres) south of the capital Colombo, and Rob Lewis’ only hope is that he can watch from atop a local landmark.
The 37-year-old member of the Barmy Army fan group was on a plane to Sri Lanka last March when Joe Root’s team abruptly ended a practice match ahead of the two Tests against Sri Lanka and left the country as the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.
Lewis stayed in Sri Lanka through its virus curfews, working remotely as a web designer 8,700 kilometres (5,400 miles) from his Surrey home, waiting for England to return and play the two Tests.
He even landed a part-time gig as a DJ at a bar in Colombo, calling himself “DJ Randy Caddick”, in homage to England fast bowler Andy Caddick.
“I’ve been in Sri Lanka the whole time on blind faith, on a wing and a prayer,” Lewis told AFP at the Galle Fort, which overlooks the cricket stadium.
He had hoped he would get into the ground but, amid a surge in infections, no fans will be allowed in for the matches.
At one point, he had jokingly asked Sri Lanka’s coach Mickey Arthur – with whom he has struck up a friendship – if he could be the water boy for the Sri Lankan side, just to get near the action.
However, he may not miss out completely.
“Lucky enough, because it is Galle, we have the beautiful fort to watch (from),” he said on the ramparts of the 16th-century fort.